Nigerians; Poor people in a rich country | By Adediji Wasiu - Mega Icon Magazine
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Nigerians; Poor people in a rich country | By Adediji Wasiu

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Among developing countries, Nigeria is a relatively rich country with abundant human and natural resources. Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world. In 2019 estimate, its population was approximately 200 million, Nigeria accounts for about 47% of West Africa’s population, and has one of the largest populations of youth in the world.

Nigeria’s economy depends heavily on the oil and gas sector, which contributes 99 percent of export revenues, 85 percent of government revenues, and about 52 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The petroleum sector being the mainstay of the Nigeria economy, contributing 36% to annual GDP, 75% to government revenues and accounting for virtually all foreign exchange earnings. In addition, despite the presence of millions of acreage of reserve mineral resources (oil and non-oil sectors) and large resources of humans found in Nigeria, the country has remained a victim of underdevelopment, several decades after the end of colonialism, most parts of Nigeria especially the rural area is still battling with problems such as high poverty rate, lack of basic infrastructural facilities in all sectors of the economy, unemployment, high mortality rate, and insecurity of lives and property. Nigeria hasn’t been able to unlock and maximize her potentials to build a prosperous economy, reduce poverty significantly, and provide health, education, and infrastructure services its population needs.

Nigeria was ranked the global poverty capital of the world with a high degree of unemployment by global development index. Despite possessing vast acreage of natural resources and experiencing positive economic growth, Nigeria’s Human Development Index (HDI) value in 2017 was 0.471, which places the country 154th out of 187 countries.

Furthermore, in the World Bank Human Development Report released in November 2018, Nigeria ranked 157th out of 189 countries. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, high poverty and unemployment rates has continued to highlight the need for Nigeria to pay more attention to achieving inclusive growth.

The key question is why improved economic and high revenue generation from oil and non-oil sectors have not translated into greater improvements in rapid infrastructural development and social welfare, especially among the rural-urban masses?

One of the goals of sustainable development goals (SDGs) is eradicating poverty in all its forms in year 2030. However, poverty remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in Nigeria. While the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped by more than half between 1990 and 2015, unfortunately, according to United Nation, 98 million of Nigerians are in multidimensional poverty; that’s 50% of Nigeria’s population are still struggling for the most basic human needs.

What this means is that as of 2019, about 98 million Nigerians still lived on less than US$1.90 a day; many lack food, access to clean drinking water and quality education.

In the last six decades, Nigeria has undergone many economic reform, growth and social investment policies before and after returns of democracy, every successive government has initiated one policy or the order on diversification of Nigeria’s economy from oil based economy to more competitive non-oil driven economy, yet it has always being a lip service with little or no efforts put to work in moving the economy from one commodity driven economy to a more open economy with low inflation, and high per capital base trade.

More so, according to the Microeconomics outlook by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), the report stated in the 2000s, Nigeria enjoyed a decade of high GDP growth averaging 7.6 per cent, adding that the period under review was accompanied by high levels of unemployment and poverty, “which could be largely attributed to the concentration of growth in just a few sectors; hence the country’s growth was not broad-based.

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Oddly enough, the role of the non-oil sectors remains under-performed, even though, it contribute 90.86 percentage to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at first quarter of 2019 higher than recorded in the first quarter of 2018 (90.45%) but lower than the fourth quarter of 2018 (92.94%). Radically, both the oil sector and non-oil sectors have remain the bedrock of corruption, and with the privatization of state-owned enterprises in oil, telecommunications, airways and electricity, and despite huge money budgeted for infrastructure development, it hasn’t resulted to more growth, rather, it has resulted in more job losses and substantially discounted terminal benefit to Nigeria .

Why did Nigeria as a nation fail over and over again?

To answer this question, permit me to share a narratives by Mr. Moses Ihiabe in a book titled “Why Nation Fail’ all over again, the author postulates that corruption, oppression, absence of social justice and bad education has kept a nation perpetually poor. He says a few percentage of the people in the political class perpetuate themselves in such a way to amass public funds for self-aggrandizement, thereby creating an unnecessary scarcity of resources to fund public facilities and institutions. ‘Most nations are poor precisely because it has been ruled by a narrow elite that have organized society for their own benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people. Political power has been narrowly concentrated, and has been used to create great wealth for those who possess it’, he said.

To appreciate that view by the author, I decide to rephrase the author’s rhetorical question in Nigeria context, why Nigeria fail, over again? The author’s accurate premises suit Nigeria situation. I can’t agree less. It provides an insight why we failed as a nation despite abundant resources in human and natural resources.

Undoubtbly, our situation since 1960 that the destiny of our dear nation has being placed in the hand of her narrow minded political elites, it has been an outcry for cases of corruption, oppression, injustices, human right abuse and absence of sound economic policy framework to facilitate and accelerate creation of an inclusive economic opportunities for the vast majority of her populace, which is crucial in addressing the pertinent issues of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion, instead, the political elites have continued to organized society for their own benefits at the expense of the vast mass of people. Every successive government has continued to dance to the tone of few cabals or class of political elites that continued to hold our nation’s in hostage and dictating the wheel of her progress.

Unfortunately, despite the abundant resources in human and natural resources both tapped and untapped resources, there is prevalent scale of poverty in Nigeria, approximately, more than 60% of Nigeria’s populous can’t afford one meal a day, which is less than a dollar per day and significant percentage of majority of the children in Nigeria, especially those in rural areas have no access to basic education and avoidable health care services. Millions of households in Nigeria and the vulnerable have no access to quality health care delivery, and other basic necessities. Nevertheless, high poverty level persists, especially in rural areas, and the gap between income groups in terms of human capital and access to basic services is growing. In addition to chronic poverty, there is widespread vulnerability as environmental, economic, and other shocks frequently affect many households.

Nigeria remains an under developed country with a relatively high level of poverty index. According to UNICEF, as at 2018, close to 13.2 million children were out-of-school, which is the highest number in the world. In addition to the core challenge of access to portable water, children malnourished by hunger, basic education, epileptic power supply, high mortality index rate and poor infrastructure deficit, the quality of learning across government-owned schools from elementary to higher institutions is significantly low across the country, from North to South, East to West are being ravaged by the same problem of under-development.

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Since 1960, the country has gone through series of internal war ranges from inter-ethnic war, religious war, territory control war and the country has turn to cesspool of corruption and misrule which has led to a remarkable sharp increase in rate of inflation and made life unbearable for her citizens with average Nigerian life expectancy at birth remains at 54 years, below the SSA average of 60.7 years. Nigeria continues to rank within the category of countries with ‘Low Human Development.

Colonization and Under-development

In a sense, most Africans independence came at a time in which many African leaders were only interested in grabbing power but were intellectually unprepared for governance, one might say, Nigeria progress has being compromiyse from the time of colonialism. The major reason while Africa continent remains in perpetual and underdeveloped despite many abundance is because most colonized Africa countries, got freedom hurriedly without any post plan for power sharing, resources control and governance.

If we are to compare our situation and that of many other African’s colonized nation to that of Ethiopia, the only uncolonized nation in Africa. Despite sharing the same geographical position on the plate of the world, Ethiopia is fast ahead of other Africa colonized Nations in development index from health, security, and infrastructural development, Ethiopia is more prosperous than many colonized African countries.

Africa continent prior to colonialism was not economically isolated from the rest of the world. Indeed, African states had engaged in documenting her history, trade from the time of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Who would ever believe that development started from Africa, particularly in the field of engineering, education, medicine, astronomical and that education actually started from Africa, Al-azhr University of Egypt, Cairo was the first and oldest university on earth and the very first place on earth where written was first done was Egypt and that west Africa specifically had developed extensively in international and regional trade with her own system of counting, money and trading pattern long before western world involving.

Without gain saying, I would say that colonization has done us more harm than good. Prior to the “Scramble for Africa,” or the colonization of Africa countries by the major European nations, African economies were advancing in every area, particularly in the area of trade, innovation, African science (metabolic power) and African were moving at very fast pace. Unfortunately, as soon as colonialism happened to her, we became a continent without direction and our rich history and natural development of the African economic system were altered completely. Our culture, food, dressing, and ways of life were viewed as uncivilized, in fact, everything about us was altered for foreign lifestyle.

Our situation in Nigeria is not lack of resources but lack of good and innovative leadership to turn around things with possible and shortest time.

Now, what could be done differently ?

By 2030, one of the goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is significant reduction by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions. This means that as a member of United Nation, we must triple our efforts and key into this goal, develop the right conditions for sustainable growth and reduced the disparities between low level class income  and higher income earners.

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Government must reduce inequality line between all men and women of all ages in all dimensions by leveraging resources across and develop the right enabling environment to reduced poverty rate and strengthen our economy through social investment program targeted towards the poor and the vulnerable .

There is need to improve opportunities in all dimensions. Government, non- government organizations must appropriate new technology and financial services, including micro-finance gear towards improving local innovations in science and technology to enhance global competitiveness and create sustainable 21st century jobs opportunity for the teaming youth. Hence, there is a need to map out strategic policies framework that would foster social investment and innovation by facilitating collaborations between government, non-governmental organizations and schools.

Government must appropriate new laws and implement old laws, fulfill their electoral promises and create policies to end poverty in all dimensions.

Non- governmental organizations must sustain their momentum towards significant mobilization of resources in order to provide adequate and predictable means in helping the poor and the vulnerable, while pushing for equal rights to economic resources, access to quality health care, education, this would help to reduce the disparities between the poor and rich to a minimum level for overall development of an inclusive and competitive economy.

Government must improve on transparency of social safety net programmes to ensure that the resources and other relief materials are  targeted at the poor and the vulnerable irrespective of political ideology, while pushing and galvanizing support for passage of laws in National and State Assembly to ensure equal rights of all Nigerians.

There is need to create access to economic resources instead of what is presently obtainable in our society that few percentage of the people in the political circle amass public funds for their self and family aggrandizement.

To put Nigeria on the path of continuous economy growth, relevant cooperate organizations, individuals and non-governmental organizations must help government to develop strategies and create sound policy frameworks at the national, state and local government levels to accelerated investment in poverty eradication and open access of the poor and the vulnerable to basic services in rural area that will discourage rural urban migration and make life easier for the poor and the vulnerable.

Conclusively, there is need for attitudinal change and our ways of life, if Africa and indeed Nigeria is to catch up with the rest of the world. We need to focus on institutional reforms that would compel people to be more pragmatic, accountable either in their private business or in government position. Also, there is need to push for enactment of policies and strategic frameworks that will lead to inclusive economy growth and brake the barrier enacted by the oppressing system between the poor and rich.

 

 

Adediji Wasiu, is a petroleum technologist and public affairs analyst

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Emir of Kano, Sanusi betrays emotion, narrates how sick child died in mother’s arms over $5

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The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, on Thursday betrayed his emotions as he expressed  displeasure over  the alarming rate of inequalities in the country.

Sanusi, who shed tears noted that the inequalities in society have caused so much hardship with the poor paying the ultimate sacrifice.

The custodian of culture  made the submission as he gave an emotional address at a United Nations (UN) meeting to reach Sustainable Development Goals in Lagos.

The traditional ruler narrated an unfortunate situation where a mother could not save her sick child, despite being close to getting help.

Sanusi stressed at the event that on that fateful day, the woman had walked to the palace from a children’s hospital located just about 200 metres.

According to him, he heard a very loud scream and asked someone to check what happened while the person who came back with tears in his eyes.

The emir said the baby died in the mother’s arms while she was waiting for her turn to ask for money to buy the drug to save her child.

“And how much was this? It was less than five dollars,” an emotional Sanusi answered.

“This is what happens every day in this country. Children die because their parents cannot afford five dollars, that a mother will watch her child die because she does not have five dollars”, the Emir added.

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Bold vision promises new dawn for Nigeria’s ailing petrochemical industry

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Estimated to hold 37 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, Nigeria is the second biggest oil-rich country in Africa, after Libya. The exploitation of these resources has been in the hands of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that was established in 1977 as a merger of the Nigerian National Oil Corporation and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel. NNPC by law manages the joint venture between the Nigerian Government and international oil companies such as Shell, Agip, ExxonMobil, Total and Chevron.

Despite its rich resources, at present Nigeria’s state-dominated oil industry is declining, afflicted by systemic corruption, starved for international investment, and hit hard by weak oil prices. Despite that malaise, oil remains the country’s chief source of income.

A choice of paths

What many considered a watershed moment for the industry occurred earlier this year in the country’s election with two conflicting strategies for the development of the industry put forward by the two candidates.

The incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari’s planned to retain a nationalized oil industry under the NNPC banner while the vision of his opponent, Atiku Abubakar, was to sell off aging refineries to private buyers to liberalise the economy. In the end Buhari won a tight contest.

The importance of the oil and gas sector for the state cannot be underestimated with more than half of its revenue along with 85 per cent of its export revenue coming from the sector. Despite the 40 billion barrels of oil under its control, Nigeria’s ageing infrastructure can only produce around 2.5 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Adding to this malady is the state of its mid-stream and downstream infrastructure that many believe is in even worse condition than its upstream assets.  The refineries dotted around the Niger Delta region are at present producing less than half of the 500,000 barrel per day capacity, with this figure dropping to almost ten per cent late last year.

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New beginnings for NNPC

The man charged with implementing the president’s policy is Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, who took on the role of group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) early this year. He quickly vowed to reverse the trend of petroleum imports into Nigeria by improving the existing refineries and encouraging private sector investment in the refineries.

“We must end the trend of fuel importation as an oil producing country,” he said at a press conference shortly after taking on the role. “We will deliver on the rehabilitation of the four refineries within the life of this administration and support the private sector to build refineries. We will support the Dangote refinery to come on stream on schedule and we will transform Nigeria into a net exporter of petroleum products by 2023”.

He added that the government’s target of raising crude oil production and reserves to three million barrels per day and 40 billion barrels respectively was possible and that he would galvanise the corporation to achieve it by 2023.

When it comes to rooting out the corruption that has plagued the industry in Nigeria he pointed out how much NNPC had changed over the past three years from the old image of a corruption-laden organisation, stressing that he would continue to entrench the culture of accountability in the affairs of the corporation.

“We are going to work to remove every element of discretion from our processes, because discretion is one of the greatest enablers of corruption”, he said. “NNPC will not be opaque, we’ll be transparent to all so that at the end of the day everyone will be in a position to assess us and say what we have done right or wrong”.

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Support from OPEC

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, has commended the NNPC for its ongoing reforms aimed at changing the fortunes of the corporation for the better.

“I am glad that you continue to march on with your projects despite the downturn in the Industry, he said. “We have seen the Industry globally suffer in terms of contraction in investment which affected capacity. You have not only been able to stay on course, but you also continue with these projects which are critical for the development of the corporation and the industry in Nigeria.”

“To lead such a sensitive and capital-intensive industry like oil and gas, you must have transparency and accountability as one of your core principles in order to drive change. I am glad I have known Mele Kyari for a very long time. He is a very capable and straightforward individual with a high level of integrity even as a very junior officer. So, he has a track record. I remain confident that together with his team, and with the support of government, he will accomplish the task”.

Building a Nigerian giant

Key to this strategy of reducing imports is the Dangote refinery that is under construction near Lagos. The 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) integrated refinery and petrochemical project will be Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility upon completion in 2020. The facility will be able to process a variety of light and medium grades of crude to produce Euro-V quality clean fuels including gasoline and diesel as well as jet fuel and polypropylene.

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Nigeria in focus at Africa Oil Week

Relations between South Africa and Nigeria have been strained in recent months after several days of riots in South Africa in September that mainly targeted foreign-owned, including Nigerian, businesses.

But following a visit to South Africa by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari tensions have eased. A further sign of the improving relationship is the visit of Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, to Africa Oil Week (Africa-OilWeek.com), the minister proclaiming himself being excited to be travelling to South Africa.

As the largest upstream event on the continent, Africa Oil Week has enjoyed attendance from the industry’s highest-level decision makers for over 25 years. This year is no different, with Nigeria’s brand new NPCC GMD making his international debut at the 2019 conference in Cape Town this November (4-8).

Mallam Melee Kyari will be setting out the future vision of the NNPC under his leadership and participating in a session titled ‘Atlantic Transform Margin (Liberia to Nigeria)’, where he will provide a deep insight into the current operating landscape in some of the most highly sought-after regions.

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Nigeria: Restructuring is the only way forward, Clark declares

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Nigerian nationalist, Edwin Clark, has reiterated that restructuring is the only way forward if there will be development in Nigeria.

The elder statesman emphasized that restructuring the country will help address its challenges.

Reacting  to the Independence Day speech by President Muhammadu Buhari, Clark said, “Without restructuring, no meaningful progress will be achieved in this country”.

He  faulted the President’s address to the nation, maintaining that there was nothing in the speech that he had not said before.

He noted that while it was worth commending that Nigerians have continued to live together in the last 59 years, a lot of issues needed to be addressed.

Top among the issues highlighted by Clark are restructuring for a better nation and the security of the lives and properties of citizens.

Contrary to the government’s position on the war against Boko Haram insurgency, he insisted that the insurgents have not been decimated.

According to him, there are security problems in the northern and southern parts of the country, including the activities of armed herdsmen.

“Not a single herdsman has been captured. They are moving around everywhere – both in the North and South and with the problem of insecurity in the North-West, things are not okay,” he said.

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The elder statesman added, “We must put politics aside, as for the security of this country; the Federal Government cannot do it alone.

“That is why many of us are suggesting that we should have a security round-table talk. The problem in Nigeria today is not in the North alone, it’s a national problem which requires everybody to talk about it.”

He further called on the government to tackle poverty and unemployment, as well as reduce the number of out of school children in the country.

 

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